Santa Barbara County is made up of diverse climates, cultures, and communities that together contribute to our countywide food system. Take a tour of the county – and learn more about the projects food system actors like you are working on – by reading the regional highlights below.
Just on the other side of Los Padres National Forest from Santa Barbara proper, as the crow flies East, lies The Enchanted Hidden Valley of Cuyama. A place like no other, Cuyama Valley sits at the crossroads of four different counties including Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern, and San Luis Obispo.
California’s largest rural Mediterranean coastline is located right here in Santa Barbara County, just west of the City of Santa Barbara. The rugged Gaviota Coast stretches 76 miles from Eastern Goleta to Point Conception and is one of just a handful of locations worldwide where the geographical landscape lends itself to a diversity of ecosystems, including rangeland, subtropics, and oak woodlands. For more than 200 years, the region’s unique climate and fertile soil have made it an ideal spot for farmers and ranchers to grow food, run cattle, and live off the land.
Encompassing Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Solvang, Buellton, Los Alamos, and Lompoc, Mid-Santa Barbara County is steeped in food history. The Chumash people – the original stewards of this land – historically used local food resources such as game, nuts, berries, seeds and fish in their communities. The Chumash original territory extends well beyond this region, but the federal government of what is now known as the United States separated their people into reservations and Missions.
Nestled at the mid-point of California’s Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley enjoys a temperate climate that supports one of the state’s longest growing seasons. As a leading producer of strawberries, wine grapes, broccoli, head lettuce, avocados, cauliflower, and celery, it’s no surprise that agriculture is central to the Valley’s local economy, valued at more than $1.4 billion annually.